SXSW 2016 Late-Night Dispatches: Wednesday
It was opening night of SXSW Music, and the NPR Music team had a show to put on. And not just a show where we stand outside and talk (though we did that, too), but a show show, a concert on the big stage at Stubb's BBQ featuring Vince Staples, Margo Price (whose debut album just went up as a First Listen), Mitski, Anderson .Paak, Chicano Batman and Charles Bradley (of whom Stephen Thompson says, "I just felt like you're only doled out so much awesomeness in this life, and to be called 'The Screaming Eagle of Soul' and wear that many rhinestones? You are holding it all for yourself and it's unfair"). It was a magical night, and a full SXSW experience.
After the stage was finally clear, members of the All Songs Considered team — Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson, Robin Hilton and Ann Powers — trooped out to the humid Austin streets afterwards to recap their days. There were two themes of the day — artists finding their voice and getting their due and young artists standing on the brink of stardom. Listen above, keep reading for other highlights from the day and some photos from our show and stay tuned — we'll have videos from the showcase soon.
Maren Morris at Spotify House
Several times today, I felt like I was watching an artist stand at the actual brink of superstardom. Like Anderson .Paak, Maren Morris has spent years toiling and refining her sound to get to that tipping point where buzz gives way to massive success. By the time Morris and her band had blazed through their breakthrough set-closing hit "My Church," it felt as if they were arriving rather than merely rising. —Stephen Thompson
Big Thief at Clive Bar
The songs of Adrianne Lenker and guitarist Buck Meek are tender and poetic, with punch, philosophical, thoughtful and singable. —Bob Boilen
Charles Bradley at Stubb's
I was going to say the Canadian rock group Dilly Dally was the best thing I saw today (and they were pretty great). Then Charles Bradley took the stage to open the NPR Music showcase at Stubb's and obliterated everything I'd seen up to that point. Decked out in a glitzy black, bedazzled jump suit, "The Screaming Eagle Of Soul" and his incredible backing band stunned with the kind of tireless, glittering performance you'd expect from a legend. Bradley is in fact 67 years old with decades of singing behind him. But he's only put out two albums — his first in 2011 — since Daptone Records discovered him working as a James Brown impersonator. It's an incredible story and one that's left the singer feeling nothing but gratitude. After thanking the audience for the opportunity to perform, Bradley told the cheering crowd, "If I can't sing from the heart, I don't want to sing at all. On my journey back to my father's house I want to show all my brothers and sisters I'm for real." —Robin Hilton
Desiigner at Fader Fort
Hip-hop artist Desiigner is not even 20 yet, but his songs are pure fire. He was signed by Kanye West's GOOD Music label. His song "Panda" was sampled for the song "Freestyle 4" on West's album The Life of Pablo. He performs with unmatched energy and his dance contortions are a great show to witness. Although often compared to Future, he is a performer in his own right with a deep voice. The audience went crazy for this guy and he literally dropped the mic on the way out. —Monika Evstatieva
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